Friday, October 16, 2009
Punctuality Freakazoid Meeting is Called to Order
"You can never be too rich or too thin." Isn't that the saying? Of course we all know that isn't true. If you're too rich you are not going to heaven, unless you actually can figure out a way to squeeze yourself through the eye of a needle. And the result of some people being too rich is that a lot of people are too thin.
But can you be too punctual? I think not.
I just had to post this response to our discussion the other day about showing up on time.
My nuns ARE punctuality freakazoids! Not long after entering (that's nunspeak for "joining the convent") we invited some of our sisters in neighboring communities to come for dinner. We told them dinner at 6 and so I jumped in the shower at 5:30 with, what imagined to be plenty of time to ready and was horrified at 5:35 to hear the doorbell ring. One lot at 5:35 and the other two were in the door by 5:45!
In my life up until now "dinner at 6" meant "you should arrive by 6:30ish" but this is a whole new world!
And when they say "we'll leave at 8am" what they mean is "we'll be out on the highway by 8 so you need to have your bum seated by 5 minutes to 8"
I entered about 2 and a half years ago and am coming up to taking first vows soon and there are still many, many days when i think "These are a truly weird mob!"
Well, thanks! But those girls are slackers! If we say we're leaving at 8 am, that means you have to be at least gathered for the leaving event at 7:30. Otherwise, the people that are driving you might get nervous that you're not going to make it by 8 and we can't have that. If you are not in the driveway by 7:45, your phone is going to be ringing to find out where you are.
And dinner at 6 means 6:30 or so? On what planet did that take place? Planet We Like Our Food Cold? Planet We Like Part of the Meal Burned and the Other Part All Mushy? Dinner at 6 means the dinner will be served at 6 and you have to arrive in time to great your host with your host gift and still have time to wash your hands.
Although there is a difference between saying "come at around 6" and "dinner is at 6". But not much of a difference.
At any rate, welcome aboard the train to nunworld! Planet Earth thanks you!
Can you be too punctual? Perhaps.
I tend to be the late person. Not so much because I think I am so much more important than others, but rather I have a hard time cutting people off. For example, if I'm talking to someone who is having a hard time, I cannot just say, "Sorry, gotta run." Do you have suggestions for getting out of these situations so you can be on time, without making the person asking for your help feel unimportant?
Punctuality is really just a part of good manners and good manners are all about people's feelings. The whole point of having good manners is simply to make other people feel at ease. If your good manners make other people feel ill at ease, they aren't good manners any more.
So there in lies your dilemma. "Sorry gotta run" is going to make one person feel bad, while your on time arrival is going to make another person feel good. Staying is going to make one person feel good while making another person anxious.
What to do? There is no cut and dry answer. It depends on what the person asking for help is asking of you? "Where do I file this?" can be dealt with in a "I'll show you that later, I'm expected somewhere just now" manner. "My mother is breathing her last" deserves some hand holding.
Happily for you, there is this great invention called the telephone. A quick "Let me just call this person who is expecting me and then I can stay here with you" will make everyone feel good. Don't just say "I have to make a phone call." And don't act put out or harried.
The only thing better than punctuality is common sense.